Braves Armchair GMs, part 3

Braves Armchair GMs, part 3

In our first and 2nd pieces  for Armchair GMs, we heard from a very thorough Will Soprano who enticed, or infuriated, us with a trade of ultimate magnitude. Then we heard from Armchair GMs in J.T. Hornbuckle (Twitter: @jthornbuckle) and Aubrey Smith (Twitter: @braveslive16) who have different ideas on what the 2018 Braves might look like.  Let’s hear from J.T. first!

For our 3rd installment, we hear from Tyler Wilson (@BravesTwills) who proposes a fairly large package of players to a team that is very familiar with the Braves system. Without further ado, I present Tyler.

Tyler Wilson, Braves Armchair GM

The Braves have prospects in the back-end of their top-30 list that would rank significantly higher in the Royals’ system, and the Royals have a few temporary pieces left that they can use to try and jumpstart another rebuild attempt. If the Braves and Royals are willing to work together towards mutual benefits, this trade proposal could accomplish a great deal.

The Trade

Royals get Matt Kemp, Matt Adams, Anfernee Seymour, Huascar Ynoa, & $20MM

Braves get Kelvin Herrera & Ryan Buchter

The Braves’ bullpen needs some work, and if there’s a way to get two solid relievers in one trade, count me in. In all honesty, the ‘pen is two arms and a stretch of growing pains away from being an above-average, major league unit.

Meanwhile, Kansas City is losing Eric Hosmer to free agency, and Brandon Moss, their go-to DH, was barely serviceable this year. Moss posted an ugly .207/.279/.428 slash line to go along with an OPS+ of just 84. His only job with the Royals is to hit baseballs, and seeing as how he’s barely been able to do that, Brandon Moss may find himself designated for assignment before Opening Day.

Why Braves would do it

Free agent relievers could wind up getting expensive this offseason, and the Braves are in no position to be big spenders. This becomes especially true when taking into account the money that will have to be spent to move the defensive liability that is Matt Kemp. If Atlanta wants to fix their bullpen without breaking the bank, it will almost have to be via trade.

Why the Royals would do it

Just as it seemed like the Royals were transforming into an AL Central powerhouse, the effects of what appeared to be a successful rebuild vanished into thin air. Kansas City’s window for opportunity was narrow, and it’s already closing. Dayton Moore did a great job acquiring talent, but wasn’t able to set the club up for sustained success. The Royals have one of the worst farm systems in all of baseball, and now it’s time to shift focus towards it instead of the MLB club.

Making sense of the deal

Matt Kemp was a great idea at first. Atlanta didn’t want the drama surrounding Hector Olivera, and there was a slim chance Kemp’s hamstrings wouldn’t render him useless in the outfield. However, now it’s clear that his legs can’t be trusted to run the bases and patrol left field. The remainder of Matt Kemp’s career will need to be spent as a DH, and he’d certainly be a more productive bat than Brandon Moss. The only problem with trading him is the whopping $19MM the Braves owe him for the next two years, but sending the Royals $13MM a year should take care of that.

On the other hand, Atlanta has the Matt Adams conundrum. He’s a good hitter, but he’s also a first baseman not named Freddie Freeman, so he doesn’t fit into the Braves’ plans. I’ve come to terms with the fact that Atlanta’s not moving Freddie to third base to let Adams play first, and I don’t want Adams wandering around in left field, so he’s got to be traded. Wait, what’s that? Who just lost their first baseman to free agency? Mhmm, exactly. Matt Adams is no Eric Hosmer, but he’s definitely an affordable, power hitting first baseman. Adams is coming off of the best season of his career, positing an .841 OPS in 367 PA. Even with limited opportunities, Adams was able to belt 20 home runs, and if that isn’t attractive to a team in need of a first baseman, I don’t know what is.

Anfernee Seymour and Huascar Ynoa are two young, low-level prospects in the midst of development, and while they aren’t MLB-ready, they’re both capable of eventually developing into MLB players. While they’re both outside the Braves’ top-20, they’d both be too-20 guys in Kansas City’s system, if not top-15. Seymour’s speedy, and showed this year that he can hit for contact, and Ynoa has a plus fastball at 19-years-old that he has time to build an arsenal around.

As for the arms the Royals would be giving up, they’re essentially sending the Braves a one-year rental of Kelvin Herrera and a solid, innings-eating reliever, and getting a fair amount of offensive production and a pair of prospects in return. Herrera will be a free agent after the 2018 season, and will be looking for a nice payday that probably won’t be a part of the Royals’ plans anyways. It’s reminiscent of how Atlanta traded away Craig Kimbrel in the early stages of their rebuild a few years back. Buchter, on the other hand, is the key piece for the Braves. Sure, they may be able to re-sign Herrera after 2018, which would be awesome, but Buchter has three arbitration years left, and could be another long-term bullpen option for Atlanta to consider. Buchter debuted as a Brave back in 2014, making just one scoreless appearance before being granted free agency following the 2014 season. Since he made his way back to the MLB in 2016, Buchter has posted a 2.85 ERA in 129.1 innings of relief. That number, along with a career 1.052 WHIP, gets me excited to spend a pair of prospects on him.

Could it all happen? This trade would fulfill several needs between both organizations, giving the Royals some farm depth and immediately replenishing offense lost to free agency, while giving the Braves the bullpen help they need to possibly make a playoff run. Atlanta has the extra cash this offseason to eat a significant amount of Matt Kemp’s salary, making the deal quite possible. However while it’s possible for things to go down this way, it all hinges on Dayton Moore’s perception of Kemp, and whether he’s willing to pay him $6MM to DH while potentially eating money on Brandon Moss’ contract to either trade him away or DFA him. If these two clubs can make this deal happen, the Braves are that much closer to making their first playoff run since 2013.

 

Thoughts? Counterpoints? Let’s hear from you guys and gals!

Go Braves!

16 Comments

Hey Tyler. Darn solid idea and if I were in the Braves shoes, I’d probably jump on it aside from my own personal preferences in what I’d like to happen in a Kemp trade with regards to salary (more comment about that in a bit). The only other aspect I’d touch on is we may not be getting such great relievers in this deal (Herrera didn’t look all that right and Buchter’s peripherals were scary last season)…but that’s not such a big deal getting out from under a good portion of Kemp’s contract.

From the Royals side, I get why they’d do it. The reasoning is logical and sound, but my only question with this trade is why the Royals might opt to package two of their last, perhaps, three true marketable pieces (the third being Joakim Soria, unless you’re going to include Danny Duffy, which I haven’t for this discussion) for, more or less, a $10M Adams/Kemp DH/Platoon-1B combination which will need additional supplementation to caddy’s Adams’ rough split against lefties, and two of the longer shots in the Atlanta system.

If I’m Dayton Moore, I probably thread a little more carefully in this deal. I’d probably want the Braves to take Brandon Moss as part of the salary offset, perhaps allowing Atlanta to keep some physical cash instead of KC having to eat Moss’s salary in a DFA/Release. While that doesn’t seem like a big deterrent, I’d also probably refrain from trading Herrera this winter unless a team is paying a premium price for him. Probably opt to keep Kelvin and see if I can get him to turn it around and deal him at the deadline if/when KC is out of contention. Big prices have been paid for hot rental relievers in the past and there’ll be a bigger market for him then when the likes of Wade Davis and Greg Holland and Addison Reed aren’t readily available on the free agent market.

What my opinion on this really comes down to is that I notice a lot of Armchair/Keyboard GM ideas try to make something out of the return for Matt Kemp. In theory, that’s all good and looks/feels awesome to be THAT GUY who turned water into wine or coal into diamonds, etc. However, short of having the rabbit already in the hat when you pull it out, I think a lot of people are much to overzealous in thinking teams will pay up even decent parts to acquire Kemp. For me, any truly realistic Kemp trade probably involves either loss of more high quality prospects, eating of more salary, taking back other contracts (perhaps of shorter term) and/or accepting very little in talent in return. For the most part, I think this trade is reasonable…but while plausible, I still have trouble seeing why the Royals go almost all-in on this to begin their sorta-rebuild half-concentrated effort to remain relevant.

I wouldnt make that trade if I were The Braves. The Braves are not going to contend in 2018….I’d rather keep Kemp for 2018 and work on trying to keep him relatively healthy in 2018 (giving Lane Adams one or two starts a week in left).

If Kemp can hit 25-30 homers in 2018 and stay relatively healthy..he’ll be MUCH EASIER to trade to an AL team after The 2018 Season. I see an AL team having no problem paying Kemp $10 mil or so to DH for them in 2019 (with The Braves eating approximately $6-$8 mil of the last year of his contract in 2019) IF Kemp shows that he can stay relatively healthy and hit for power in 2018.

If Braves management doesnt spend any significant money this offseason…The 2018 Payroll will drop from $130 mil in 2017 to around $100 mil or so in 2018. We can use the drop in payroll in 2018 to pay for whatever we have to eat of Nick Markakis final year 2018 contract (we’ll eat approximately $2-$4 mil of the $10.5 mil he’s owed) in order to open up a spot in Right Field for 2018…in addition to
how much of Kemp’s contract we’ll end up eating after The 2018 Season (if Kemp cant stay healthy/cant hit for consistent power, we may have to end up eating ALL of Kemp’s 2019 $18.5 mil salary…because there is NO WAY that The Braves will be able to seriously compete for The Playoffs in 2019 with an injured/ineffective Matt Kemp playing Left Field/hitting clean-up).

Either way, by getting rid of Kemp after The 2018 Season, we’ll be rid of all our bad contracts. The plethora of youngsters we’ll have filling out the majority of our roster…we’ll have some payroll flexibility to potentially spend big money in Free Agency (I wont rehash my detailed proposals here, lol) if Braves management desires to do so!

I’d rather give a number of youngsters in our system opportunities to pitch in the bullpen in 2018…than basically wasting $8 mil on Kelvin Herrera. We do not need pricey veterans with NO FUTURE on The Braves taking away playing time from our potentially high upside youngsters!

Let’s enjoy seeing these kids play in 2018. Let’s find out which ones are ‘the real deals’….and come Free Agency after The 2018 Season, we’ll have an opportunity to potentially sign players who can help our young players take that next step to The Playoffs!

Paul,

I’ve never really called you out on this, but I want to point out that everytime a Kemp trade discussion comes up, you’ve presented your scenario–which is fine as an opinion, but you’ve always poo’d on the ideas as if they are completely wrong or terrible ideas from the Braves perspective. As I said. Opinions are fine, and yours is valid even if it’s lacking in evidence or isn’t all that realistic. However, that scenario you present is of a perfect world where Kemp stays healthy, produces at a high level and therefore a taker can be found for Kemp at the price of about $10M shed salary. That’s a really peachy projection, IMO, considering Kemp’s health history.

That said, any good scenario and plan has contingencies in place if/when things don’t go according to said plan. In your scenario of keeping Kemp because we absolutely shouldn’t be trading him under any circumstance presented thus far, what happens in the event that Kemp has trouble staying healthy right out of spring training? Let’s say a freakish injury occurs and he severely pulls his troublesome hamstring rounding first base as he tries to leg out a double. Braves DL him out of the gates, and even after he’s activated, he’s just not right. He ends the year with a career-worst .248/.275/.360. He becomes absolutely untradeable at that point and no one is willing to take him at any price. The Braves are forced to either release him, or waste the roster spot on him realizing no savings, cutting into the fund and making it virtually impossible to fit both Harper and Machado into the payroll as you’ve presented repeatedly in the past.

I’d like to hear more of your idea, because I’ve been unable to this point, to see how the Braves would benefit—if they were to have some of these deals on the table—from keeping Kemp an extra year and leaving things to chance vs. trading him right now if they are able to. It just doesn’t add up.

Bryce S….valid point you brought up. I relish the opportunity to explain my position/positions further!

1. I’m not opposed to trading Kemp under ‘any scenario’! I just havent come across any potential deals online that make sense..so far. Trading him now (with 2 years/$37 mil left on his deal) would require The Braves to EITHER take on another bad contract (bad idea)…or eat something like $30 mil (not realistic…The Braves would be better off ‘gambling’ that Kemp could try and stay healthy/hit 25-30 homers in 2018)….given what happened with Kemp in 2017.

Also, the problem I have with the deal in this article (as I stated in my last post) is getting two relief pitchers back I feel do not fit in the long term plans of The Braves. I want to see Braves Management go with the youngsters in 2018. We still need to trade Nick Markakis to open up a spot for Ronald Acuna! Playing BS service games with Acuna….would take away 2-3 weeks of playing time in Atlanta for Acuna! I want to see how Alibes and Acuna perform/adjust to a full season of hitting at the top of the batting order for The Braves. Their development in 2018….will go A LONG WAYS towards determining if it is wise to go after Machado and Harper in The 2018 offseason. If they perform as expected….we’ll be HELLA SET for the next two seasons at pre-arbitration salaries for them (as well as defined cost controlled salary arbitration for the following 3 seasons for both of them). However if Acuna and/or Albies turn out to not be as advertised in 2018 (or need more time developing)….that would put a crimp in my Machado/Harper hopes…because of the need to find replacements for Acuna and/or Albies (or to give them more time to develop) that would basically making signing both Machado and Harper impossible!

2. Let’s say that Kemp does get hurt in Spring Training or early in The 2018 Season: How would that affect our Season? We’d either give Lane Adams more playing time….or if we still have Matt Adams, play him. Or we’d go after any number of players from other teams who could serve as a one year stop gap (we gave up a non-prospect for Matt Adams after Freddie Freeman got hurt in late May).

Either way….our playoff hopes are not riding on Matt Kemp! The main goal for 2018…is to give our plethora of young pitchers (along with Albies and Acuna) the bulk of the playing time in order to evaluate their long term ability to help The Braves in 2019 and beyond!

3. Let’s say that worst case scenario…Matt Kemp sucks/is hurt during The 2018 Season…and we have to eat all of the $18.5 mil we owe him in 2019 by cutting him after The 2018 Season ends? I’ve already accounted for this….by allocating the payroll savings from 2017 to 2018 (the 2017 payroll was approximately $130 mil….the 2018 payroll should be approximately $100 mil IF Braves management decides to stay pat this offseason when it comes to adding to the payroll). The $30 mil savings between the two seasons….could be directed to account for the approximately $2-$4 mil that we have to eat of Markakis’ final year $10.5 mil we owe him in 2018 after we trade him this offseason, as well as the worst case scenario of having to eat all of Kemp’s $18.5 mil 2019 Final year if we have to cut him after The 2018 Season ends!

That…is how you get rid of/account for those bad contracts..wiping the slate clean of bad contracts for Atlanta’s payroll going into The 2018 Free Agency Offseason! We could set a $150 mil payroll for The 2019 Season (again, if we had a $130 mil payroll for a team that management had to know WOULD NOT really make The Playoffs in 2017…then $150 mil for a team that would be expected to make a Playoff run in 2019…is more than reasonable, given how revenues have substantially gone up with the opening of Sun Trust Field and the surrounding properties that bring in additional revenues for The Braves).

Either way…The 2018 Season (whether it is lowering the payroll to financially account for paying off the bad contracts of Markakis and Kemp…as well as to give the plethora of young talent significant playing time) should be about putting The Braves in the best possible position to field a team capable of making a serious playoff run starting in 2019!

If you need more clarification…please ask!

Paul,

First and foremost, thanks for trying to explain yourself, but unfortunately you didn’t answer much of anything.

Point 1 establishes that basically, under any circumstance, you would rather just keep Kemp–even if it meant saving $3-4M/year over the next two seasons. It misses a lot of potential deal structures, but that’s okay. You’ve more or less confirmed my observation that you’d rather keep Kemp than trade him now.

Point 2 in as incoherent a statement as I’ve seen you make in the comments sections here in a while. At which point was it ever established that the 2018 season’s playoff hopes are riding on Matt Kemp? I’m not sure anyone’s arguing–at least not here–that Kemp is an integral part of the team’s potential successes in 2018. In fact, I think everyone’s in agreement that, whether now or later, the Braves are better off without him on the roster. What I’m, personally, trying to establish is that IF the Braves find a trade in which they can get rid of Kemp while saving a little bit of money, a lot of money, or even if they have to take on big contracts for 2018 to realize savings later, or hell, dare I say, maybe even take on a contract longer in term (which I feel isn’t the point of these Kemp scenarios, but I’ll humor it) or less yearly money at a position that is less likely to play a vital role in the team’s future successes or failures, then Atlanta should probably grasp the opportunity to get rid of Kemp now instead of gambling that he’ll stay healthy for 2018 and establish some trade value, because as I posed to you in my original reply, what happens if Kemp gets hurt or is ineffective and he truly becomes immovable in 2019?

Which brings us to the third point, which you tried to answer that question, about how you’ve shrewdly allocated for a potential Kemp failure by suggesting the team could stand pat, save $30M in 2018 and then use that as Markakis ’18/Kemp ’19 absorption. Perhaps that may work in some accounting practices, but this thinking displays a massive misunderstanding of the yearly payroll and how it works. Unfortunately, one year’s savings does not affect the next year’s payroll. Not significantly in the way you are suggesting. If the Braves come in at the end of 2018 at $100M in payroll, any savings realized goes into the pockets of Liberty Media. So if that’s how it works, why doesn’t Atlanta go ballistic every winter and spend every available dime? Well, because the front office is under loose orders to keep the team profitable. Breaking even every single year would cost McGuirk and likely Schuerholz their jobs. Back to the “save it for next year” concept, though. It absolutely does not forward to 2019 to allow for the team to make up for cutting Kemp and/or signing Machado/Harper or whatever else they have planned. If things worked this way, they Braves would’ve never picked up Kemp’s salary in exchange for Olivera to begin with. They would have never signed Markakis. They would’ve never signed Freddie Freeman to his contract extension way back when. They certainly would not have traded for Matt Adams or signed Bartolo and Dickey and traded for Jaime Garcia. They’d have saved ALL that salary over ALL those years while gathering up prospects only to spend it in one mega offseasons where they’d jump from a $50M payroll right up into the luxury tax threshold. The payroll is a year-to-year figure and accounting for a potential Matt Kemp face plant goes way beyond saying simply that we’ll save the money now and spend it later.

Fact of the matter is, there is no planning for things to go entirely wrong. If the proverbial fecal matter hits the fan, you just have to suffer the consequences of not pulling the trigger on things earlier if you had the opportunity. This is what has bothered me about the way you’ve replied to a lot of these scenarios, because you continually play them off as if it’s such a bad idea for the Braves to rid of Kemp and net whatever savings is possible or for short term assets or for another bad contract that may hurt us less because they wouldn’t be an everyday position, etc. It’s okay to believe that the Braves just won’t be able to trade Kemp and his contract. People have that opinion and it’s absolutely fine and a solid stance to take because there’s a lot of evidence to support it. But that’s not what you’ve been suggesting. You’re suggesting that these trades are plausible, but that the Braves should not do them. It still just baffles me how you can suggest–with other options available–the best thing for the Braves to do is to keep Kemp and double down on the bet that he’ll remain healthy, produce a near MVP offensive numbers season (in a season where someone doesn’t hit nearly 60 homeruns, of course) and build up enough value to offset whatever defensive shortcomings he’ll have along the way.

Bryce S…..I’ll try to clarify these points of disagreement more so:

Point 1: If we could dump Matt Kemp in an effort to save $4 mil a year ($8 mil total)…while taking back NO OTHER CONTRACTS…I still would not make that deal! We’d be still eating $29 mil of his contract! I’d rather pay Kemp the $18.5 mil we owe him for 2018…and see if he can indeed try and stay healthy/rebound and hit for power during The 2018 Season. You ‘seem’ to want to rid The Braves of Kemp’s contract by eating $29 mil of it over 2 years (while saving $4 mil a year, $8 mil total in savings). What kind of left fielder do you think The Braves can get using that $4 mil we’re saving off of Kemp’s contract after we get rid of him (hypothetically speaking)? When healthy, Kemp has shown that he can hit for power for The Braves. He showed it in the last two months of 2016 AND the first 2 months of 2017. He just got hurt and didnt recover the last half of the 2017 season.

The move is to keep Kemp for 2018..and see what happens. I dont see the long term ‘repercussions’ of keeping Kemp as our left fielder/cleanup hitter for The 2018 Season! Again, it isnt like we’re going to be serious playoff contenders in 2018…nor is Kemp blocking someone currently in Triple A (Markakis is the one who is blocking Acuna)!

Point 2: I do not want to see any other bad contracts potentially coming to Atlanta in any deal to get rid of Kemp. He’s a bad contract…let’s just deal with it the best we can. We need to give our young pitching prospects every opportunity to show us what it is that they have in 2018. Giving away those PRECIOUS roster spots to a pricey veteran (like KC’s Herrera…and the other BUM in Ryan Buchter) while possibly offering some payroll relief…is counter-productive to our long term questions that need answering in 2018. Herrera and Buchter WOULD NOT be with The Braves past 2018.

Braves Nation is going to be HELLA SURPRISED come Opening Day at how YOUNG this team is! Our pitching staff (except for Jim Johnson..unless our new GM finds a way to get rid of him) will all be UNDER 30 years of age). Julio Teheran and Mike Folty will be ‘the veterans’ of our rotation at the ripe old age of 27! Our bullpen is going to be FULL of young arms trying to make their mark in MLB! Other than Kemp and our catching combo of FLowers and Suzuki….our position players will all be under 30 (Albies and Acuna both under 22).

Mike Soraka, Kolby Allard knocking on the door in Triple A (both under 21)….Kyle Wright and Tooki Tousiant both in Double A, candidates to move fast to Atlanta before the season ends…..Joey Wentz and Bryce Wilson both in High Class A ball to start The 2018 Season (Luis Gohara made his way to MLB by August after starting The 2017 Season in High Class A). Atlanta has SOME SERIOUS young talent (I didnt even mention Austin Riley and Alex Jackson….because while they are both talented home run hitters…I’m not quite as sold on them…as I am on Albies and Acuna) pressing to move up to Atlanta quickly! I DO NOT want to see short term moves (you know, like signing the likes of Todd Frazier to a 2 year contract…or a couple of veteran relievers to 1 or 2 year deals….when we need to use The 2018 Season to evaluate The Prime Prospects we have…in addition to clearing up as much payroll as possible to go after what looks to be A HELLA LOADED 2018 Free Agency Offseason Class!

Point 3: I feel that Braves Management NEEDS to sell to Ownership…the shrewd idea of using the $30 mil savings between the 2017 and 2018 payroll….to pay down the cost of eating both Markakis and Kemp’s contract! By doing that, The Braves would seemingly be taking $30 mil profit from Liberty’s bottom line in 2018. However, what it would ALSO DO…is put The Braves in position to become A HUGELY PROFITABLE TEAM over the next 10-15 years….IF we had the payroll flexibility that came from NOT ONLY increasing The 2019 Payroll to $150 mil…BUT ALSO to be completely rid of all the bad contracts (Markakis and Jim Johnson’s $4.5 mil contract expire after The 2018 Season…..Kemp would be either traded/released after The 2018 Season….that $30 mil difference in payroll between 2017 and 2018…should be used to pay off/account for those three bad contracts..which would CLEAR The Braves of any bad contracts going into 2019).

When The 2018 Free Agency Offseason begins…only Freddie Freeman ($21 mil)..Ender Inciarte ($5 mil)..Julio Teheran ($11 mil, however a candidate to be easily traded to a number of pitching starved teams IF 2018 proves to be A GREAT year for a number of our young pitching prospects proving themselves in Atlanta UNLESS it all of sudden comes together for Teheran, resulting in him turning into an ace-like pitcher)..Mike Folty (approximately $6-$7 mil via salary arbitration….again, same position as Teheran when it comes to being trade bait…UNLESS he miraculously exhibits an ace-like season in 2018)…possibly Flowers/Suzuki combo ($7 mil combined, depending on how they both do in 2018)….a combined $32 mil (4 players) OR a combined $49.5 mil (6 players IF we keep both Teheran and Folty, which is probably doubtful).

Then that leaves either $118 mil to fill 21 spots OR $100.5 mil to fill 19 spots on the roster. The decision to keep Teheran and Folty will depend on how well the likes of Gohara, Newcomb and Fried do starting…as well if Mike Soraka, Kolby Allard and even Kyle Wright play their way onto Atlanta’s roster before The 2018 Season ends! In addition….Albies and Acuna (along with Dansby Swanson) all showing that they belong in 2019…will give The Braves A PLETHORA of pre-arbitration eligible/making The MLB Minimum Salary-type players to fill out our payroll with!

If things go like I hope/expect them to….we could easily have 2/3rds of our 2019 Roster making The MLB Minimum…..while setting records for how much WAR they generate in relation to their salaries! That would allow for Braves management to make THREE BOLD SIGNINGS that would ADDRESS three needs that would make The Braves NOT ONLY serious playoff contenders…BUT ALSO fit into a hypothetical $150 mil payroll!

As you know, Manny Machado ($35 mil) to play 3rd….Bryce Harper ($35 mil) to play Left Field….and Craig Kimbrel ($18 mil) to return to Atlanta to be our closer…would be a GREAT THREESOME to go after to shore up our rosters/fill the weakness (particularly the lack of home run power behind Freddie Freeman). They both play good defense…are young…can run decently on the bases. Also, Sun Trust Field would be A LOCK to sell out virtually every night with that line-up/with the quality pitching we’d be sending out on a nightly basis! The Braves winning/going to The Playoffs/selling out Sun Trust Field (along with the surrounding properties being a virtual cash register) would MORE THAN PAY FOR The Free Agent Expenditures I’m advocating for!

Those three would add up to $88 mil. Either that would bring the total to $120 mil for 7 players combined….OR….$137.5 mil for 9 players combined (including both Teheran and Folty). Given that the vast majority of the remaining roster spots would be going to the $550k-$600k a year MLB Minimum Salary pre-arbitration players……if Management wanted to either acquire a strong bench player who was versatile OR if Management wanted to acquire a more experienced set-up man…then Management could (if they wanted to keep both Teheran and Folty) either ask for a $5-$10 mil bump in payroll…OR Management could move either Teheran and/or Folty to free up payroll to pay for those improvements.

I agree, management would have to be creative to make it work. However the numbers are doable! Also, IMAGINE what kind of fan excitement/increase in attendance would result from The Braves signing Machado and Harper to hit #4-#5 behind Freddie Freeman (with Albies and Acuna setting the table while hitting #1-#2)…in addition to having Craig Kimbrel close out ballgames for The Braves? Excitement would rival what we had back in the early-mid 1990’s!

This vision would be so bold….yet possibly cement The Braves as playoff contenders for the next 10-15 years! I’m telling you dude, this IS NOT an impossible dream! If our GM is worth his weight in gold…he has to be at least pondering this! It makes too much sense!

Your thoughts Bryce S?

Paul,

1. That’s where I feel you are being silly. You’re viewing Kemp’s contract and the savings involved in these trades in a complete and utter vacuum. What kind of left fielder do I think we can get for $4M? That question proposed just illustrates that you have no concept of how to view the dynamic of how a big league, or any, payroll functions. It’s not about what kind of replacement in left field $4M can get you, it’s about what $4M in addition to all available funds can do for your ability to build a roster. Say all we do this winter is the above proposed trade of Kemp, saving $4M/season. It opens a door for Acuna to play from Day 1. Sure. Maybe we need to shift some people positionally (convince Markakis to left, basically), but that’s just semantics. We keep Markakis, the better of the pair between himself and Kemp, and we allow his contract to play itself out to the trade deadline where we reassess. Or if someone wants to take the entire Markakis contract right now, that’s cool too…because then we’d have saved nearly $15M, which combined with other available funds can be used to improve the roster in other areas such as the bullpen and/or bench (it is still a glaring weakness beyond Suzuki and maybe Lane Adams and that’s giving Lane much benefit of the doubt), and the beauty of this is the additions could be short term fixes, or they could be multi-year plugs as the Braves have shown in the past the willingness to invest both in short and longterm solutions at those spots depending on the names involved. Again. Making sure you are rid of Kemp heading into 2019 by having him gone is 2018 at minimal cost savings is preferable to risking that you head into 2019 just stuck with him at full cost. I mean, I’d hate for you to try and sign Harper, as your plan states, only to have Matt Kemp eating up a roster spot that Harper should be taking. And before you say “then we’d release him”, I call shenanigans, because then what’s the difference of just releasing him now? As I’ve stated all along, if the opportunity is there, gambling should not be done, and whatever cost savings should be taken advantage of. It’s not about the money, at this point, but more about ensuring Kemp is gone sooner than later.

2. You are at least right in the very first sentence. I agree that we should not add any “bad contracts”. However, I think our definitions of bad contracts varies slightly. I think you’re more all-inclusive, which pigeon-holes your opinion into making any Kemp trade basically impossible or a bad trade. It’s kind of like you want to have your cake and eat it too. It’s just not possible with that mindset. My definition, on the other hand, of a bad contract is one that is both of multiple years and of a big enough salary to make having the player not worthwhile. Kemp’s a textbook definition that is relevant to this discussion. A one year deal, while the salary can be prohibitive, to me isn’t a “bad contract” in that you’re out from under the commitment to the unworthy player after a single season. Example. Nick Markakis. Terrible contract at the time. A lot of people saw it coming. It’s been a bad contract through 2017, but is no longer a “bad” contract in my mind’s eye because now at a single season of just over $10M, the cost isn’t exactly prohibitive to having Markakis. It would be if he were owed about $8M more…but he’s not. No longer a bad contract because the requisite of multiple years is no longer on the table. Basically, in non-wordy explanation, if you are able to do something like we did with Chris Johnson or even in the Kemp trade itself….which was shorten the commitment by an entire season while paying the money upfront in 2018—or even more money in 2018—the point is to be rid of Kemp’s salary in 2019. THIS is where I disagree with most proposals others make. Others propose we take on significant salary in 2019 to make a play at 2018’s season. I’m not completely for that. I understand it may be a possibility and a small number like $4M in savings is better than no money in savings, but my preference is to be creative like the team has been in the past and how Anthopoulos has proven to be while he was in Toronto, and be rid of the entire 2019 commitment…whether that savings in 2019 is used to go after your Harper/Machado combo or not, the drop in the bucket of paying for it upfront or in other capital would be worthwhile as you and I both can agree that contention 2018 is/should not be the team’s primary focus.

3. Again. That is not how payroll works, at least not with a corporate owner like Liberty Media. You can’t just tell Liberty, “Hey, we’re not going to spend money this year so we can spend more next year. Kthx.” It just doesn’t work that way. As I informed you in my last reply, the money saved in 2018’s “bottom line” goes directly into the pockets of Liberty Media. They won’t give a single fudge brownie (the non-fun non-adult kind) about a silly request to put aside a fund to pay a player off a year later. Corporate ownership is in it for the “now” and “lately”. How much profit did the team make “lately”. What’s the benefit “now”? They couldn’t care how profitable the team will be 10 and 15 years from now, because they do not view the Atlanta Braves as that longterm of an asset. In fact, if it were profitable enough and they were not bound by, at least, a gentleman’s agreement that they would not quick sell the Braves, we’d have different (probably corporate) ownership by now. That’s a different discussion for a different day, anyway. Back on topic of the actual payroll. Now, if your argument is simply to propose a massive payroll increase in 2019, that’s different. Not very wise to bank on it happening, but different. After the 2018 season, you could very well propose and try to convince Liberty Media to approve a payroll increase from $130M to $150-160M or even more. I mean, McGuirk has gone as far as to claim that Liberty Media doesn’t restrict the Braves’ spending (which is not completely truthful, mind everyone) so it’s within the realm of possibility the team could increase payroll for the right cause of adding big names if it had to or felt it needed to, but I’m sure that’d be the case only if we were a game or even innings away from going to or winning a world series. As I said before, needless or crazy spending that can’t be justified right upfront with an easy “Baseball for Dummies” explanation (keep in mind, the pitch is being made to business people who may not necessarily know anything about baseball) may cost everyone in the front office their jobs.

And there it goes again. With the best case scenario being the assumed path. I can assure you that 10 times out of the last 10 seasons, things haven’t gone “exactly” the way you’ve planned things to go, Paul. Perhaps you may be right about Kemp having a big year and becoming movable, but what happens if other poo hits the fan and the young pitching depth is decimated with injuries. Longterm injuries like labrum issues which are still 50/50 career-enders and Tommy John, which is still a year-long recovery process. What happens if the makeshift bullpen Copelella put together with scotch tape, spit and bandaids finally starts to unravel and Sam Freeman unlearns how to get lefties out, AJ Minter faceplants and/or Jose Ramirez regresses and begins allowing homeruns and walking people at a Dan Kolb-ian rate? As you’ve noted, what happens if Albies and Swanson don’t progress and/or rebound? Manny Machado has another terrible year and then tears ligaments in his knee on the final day of 2018? Bryce Harper gets hit with a 100 mph fastball upside the head because he’s kind of a douche and he probably deserved it? What if Freddie Freeman gets straight up assassinated because someone takes offense to his hug life, this is basic hugganomics lifestyle? What I’m saying is if you could predict accurately what the Braves players would do what others would do and basically the future, we wouldn’t be having this discussion right now and you’d be in the front office of some big league franchise winning World Series after World Series in what would be history’s greatest franchise of all time or making millions as a fortune teller or preventing unnecessary tragedies, etc. As I posed to you in my original post, you still haven’t really covered the contingency for your Matt Kemp plan if things don’t go exactly as you plan them to. The answers you’ve provided go more along the lines of making up a fake payroll system and saying things will go as you plan. The reason I confronted you about this is I felt you didn’t have a legitimate backup plan (because keeping Kemp for 2018 IS the backup plan and worst case scenario for the offseason) and you kind of proven that you don’t, even if it’s inadvertent. You may reply if you’d like to try and explain yourself further, but without something more substantial, I think I’ve read enough about your plan to be satisfied that my previous assessments of your posts were accurate.

Thanks for hashing all that out.

We’ll just have to agree to disagree. I could make another lengthy post to try to explain more how you’re simply not getting my points (in addition to being stubborn about a corporation’s ‘refusal’ to be flexible regarding my proposal to use the payroll savings one year to pay off the bad contracts in the next year)….but I wont.

I will close by emphasizing that I NEVER stated that our young pitching (as well as Albies and Acuna) talent are STONE COLD LOCKS to be cheap/productive STARS for the next 6-10 years! I have REPEATEDLY stated that 2018 is a crucial year to answering a lot of these questions! IF injuries/lack of production from a number of these prospects occur, then I totally agree that signing Machado and Harper during The 2018 Free Agency Offseason would probably be foolish/too early to make a financial investment like that!

However, I’m optimistic that given the plethora of pitching prospects we have…we’re going to find at least 3 starting pitchers to join Teheran and Folty (and possibly 5 more, when all is said and done) to completely rebuild our starting rotation into a dangerous post-season caliber rotation! Albies and Acuna showing that they are The Braves version of Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa….in my mind, cements the no-brainer proposal to BE BOLD and go after Machado, Harper and Kimbrel during The 2018 Free Agency Offseason!

We’ll find out during The 2018 Season where The Braves stand regarding this rebuild! I’m excited….even if we do not compete for a playoff spot in 2018…because of The Long Term Possibilities regarding The Braves! I didnt mind being patient during the mid-late 1980’s VERY LEAN YEARS…because I followed the rebuild of our farm system by reading Baseball America and The Sporting News (I know, pretty ancient, but those were very resourceful when it came to keeping up with a team’s prospects). And I dont mind being patient one more year (to go with the past three seasons) in 2018…because I feel that The Braves will be positioned to make The 2019 Season be a possible repeat of The 1991 Season (all I ask/hope for..is that we win JUST ONE MORE GAME in 2019, than we did in 1991)!

Kemp’s contract are sunken costs. Paying $36M and keeping him on roster is worse than paying, say, $30M to some team to take him. His worth on the field is negative.

Let’s get real: it’s not about what we’ll get in return for Kemp. It’s about getting rid of him as cheap as possible. it WILL cost Braves money and/or prospects.

TRad….My point..is that keeping Kemp for The 2018 Season is not going to hurt The Braves long term. He isnt blocking anyone from playing (nor is there any current Free Agents who I feel would be a long term asset for The Braves potentially playing left field)…nor do we have a realistic chance to make The Playoffs in 2018. The 2018 Season should all be about giving the high upside youngsters ample playing time….so Braves Management can evaluate whether these prospects are as good as advertised AND if they can be counted on to be HELLA PRODUCTIVE (and HELLA CHEAP, at least for the next few years) young players to build a playoff contending team around with LONG TERM!

However, getting rid of Kemp by the beginning of The 2018 Free Agency Offseason…is HELLA ESSENTIAL to the long term success of The Braves. If Kemp can stay healthy/hit homers in 2018…we’ll only have to eat approximately $6-$8 mil of the $18.5 mil owed to Kemp in 2019. However if Kemp is a total bust (whether health and/or production wise) in 2018…The Braves will have NO CHOICE but to eat the whole $18.5 mil owed to Kemp…because there is NO WAY that The Braves can realistically compete for a playoff spot starting in 2019…IF Matt Kemp is playing left/hitting cleanup in this lineup! Plus, we’d lose out on an opportunity to replace Kemp with an absolutely hitting stud in Bryce Harper (who will only cost The Braves MONEY…NOT any of our prized/cheap pitching prospects)!

Either way, the payroll savings from 2017 to 2018..by staying pat this offseason….should go to getting rid of the remaining bad contracts of Markakis and Kemp (Jim Johson’s $5 mil comes off the books after 2018).

He’s blocking a lot of money. If we could give him away and save even a few millions – we would be better off.

Think about Kemp as a dead parrot:

This parrot is no more! He has ceased to be! ‘E’s expired and gone to meet ‘is maker! ‘E’s a stiff! Bereft of life, ‘e rests in peace! If you hadn’t nailed ‘im to the perch ‘e’d be pushing up the daisies! ‘Is metabolic processes are now ‘istory! ‘E’s off the twig! ‘E’s kicked the bucket, ‘e’s shuffled off ‘is mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin’ choir invisible!! THIS IS AN EX-PARROT!!

The only question is if we will cost us $18M per season or, for example, $15M per season. The second option is obviously better.

Paul, I get your posts. I get your passion. And in this case, I actually agree with you in regards with giving kemp a ‘look and see’ in 2018. I think it will be very clear by game 61 what kind of Kemp the braves can expect in 18. I know every stat in the world screams release him etc. and i’m sure that is a wise choice. I have a gut feeling he will rebound. I dont see any senario that someone actually takes Kemp, so for a third of the season–why not. If its already sunk cost–lets ‘look and see.’ I want Acuna in Atl after 60 or so games. Unless he is doing Acuna things and cant be kept down like trout was. (and Paul could you please no longer use all caps to make your points. We get it really. Honest. Please. so much better than HELLA PLEASE STOP WITH THE ALL CAPS! bro! Its great to be a braves fan–and good luck to us all).

Even if standing par for two years was possible and savings could have been transfered to 2020 – it would cost us two years of Freeman’s peak.

Actually keeping Freeman is an unforced error. He should have been traded. We suck (and will suck next season) with him, we could as well suck without him.

I one thousand percent disagree with the notion that the Braves should’ve traded Freddie. He’s an MVP level talent, whom will still have prime years left- even if the Braves do not contend until 2020. I personally think they’ll be there by 2019, though.

Besides, you can’t just burn everything to the ground when you do a rebuild. There needs to be SOMETHING watchable on the field. These last few seasons haven’t been a lot of fun to be a Braves fan, and it’d have been 3x as bad if we had some nobody playing 1B. If they’d have traded Freddie, I’d have traded the money I spend on merchandise and tickets for more useful and entertaining things… and not have given the Braves a second thought.

Yes, from financial and/or sentimental POV keeping Freeman was probably sound decision. However we are wasting at least two his peak seasons, 2017 and 2018. It would be better to have some player(s) which would start peaking no sooner than in 2019.

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